On Monday night, the Rockets and Jazz took commanding leads in their respective first-round series, joining the Warriors among the Western teams holding a 3-1 edge. In the fourth Western Conference series, the Pelicans have already advanced, so barring an unlikely comeback by the Timberwolves, Thunder, or Spurs, it looks like we may not get much more drama out west in round one.
The same can’t be said for the Eastern Conference though. Heading into Tuesday night, three of four series are tied at two games apiece, and the Sixers/Heat matchup – where Philadelphia holds a 3-1 lead – has also been entertaining and competitive.
While the Raptors, Cavaliers, and Celtics are still the favorites to advance to the second round, there are areas of concern for all three clubs heading into Game 5. The Raps fell back on same old playoff habits in Game 4 when they failed to move the ball as effectively as they have for much of the season; the Cavs’ supporting cast around LeBron James has been inconsistent; and the C’s have just been hit hard by injuries, though Marcus Smart‘s return appears imminent.
Meanwhile, the opponents in those three series are flawed, but dangerous. The Wizards are led by a pair of All-Stars in John Wall and Bradley Beal, and that backcourt can be hard to stop when it gets going; the Bucks have one of the NBA’s best players in Giannis Antetokounmpo; and the Pacers are a deep and well-coached squad headed by a potential All-NBA guard in Victor Oladipo.
We’ve essentially got a trio of best-of-three series on our hands in the East, and while it’s still possible that we won’t get any upsets, the underdogs have proven that they’ll make things difficult for the conference’s top seeds.
What do you think? Will the Raptors, Celtics, and Cavaliers all survive their first-round scares or will one or more of those teams get bounced in the first round? Vote below in our poll, then jump into the comment section to share your thoughts!
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